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, 8 (3), e59840

Open-source 3D-printable Optics Equipment


Open-source 3D-printable Optics Equipment

Chenlong Zhang et al. PLoS One.


Just as the power of the open-source design paradigm has driven down the cost of software to the point that it is accessible to most people, the rise of open-source hardware is poised to drive down the cost of doing experimental science to expand access to everyone. To assist in this aim, this paper introduces a library of open-source 3-D-printable optics components. This library operates as a flexible, low-cost public-domain tool set for developing both research and teaching optics hardware. First, the use of parametric open-source designs using an open-source computer aided design package is described to customize the optics hardware for any application. Second, details are provided on the use of open-source 3-D printers (additive layer manufacturing) to fabricate the primary mechanical components, which are then combined to construct complex optics-related devices. Third, the use of the open-source electronics prototyping platform are illustrated as control for optical experimental apparatuses. This study demonstrates an open-source optical library, which significantly reduces the costs associated with much optical equipment, while also enabling relatively easily adapted customizable designs. The cost reductions in general are over 97%, with some components representing only 1% of the current commercial investment for optical products of similar function. The results of this study make its clear that this method of scientific hardware development enables a much broader audience to participate in optical experimentation both as research and teaching platforms than previous proprietary methods.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Rendered parametric design in OpenSCAD on an open-source optical chopper wheel with a) 10 slots, b) 15 slots and c) 60 slots.
Figure 2
Figure 2. An open-source self-replicating rapid prototyper printing a 3-D optical component – filter bracket.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Open-source optical rail fabricated from OpenBeam using a printed a) magnetic base or b) T-brackets, c) simple rod holder, and d) off-set rod holder.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Magnetic optics base.
Figure 5
Figure 5. a) Static square filter holder, b) static circular filter holder and c) kinematic mirror or lens holder.
Figure 6
Figure 6. Static fiber-optic holder.
Figure 7
Figure 7. Screen holder.
Figure 8
Figure 8. Sample holder.
Figure 9
Figure 9. Open-source lab jack.
Figure 10
Figure 10. Parametric automated filter wheel changer.

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The authors have no support or funding to report.